We believe we can make a change

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A month-long challenge is underway at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center to answer an important question: What can families do to support each other, manage their weight together and lead healthy lives?

Here’s why: Children in America today, for the first time in generations, are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents if current health trends continue.

Tops among those trends is obesity, which has long been known to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Yet, obesity continues to be a growing problem here in Brunswick County, elsewhere in North Carolina, across the entire Southeast and nation.  In fact, it’s no longer a problem — it’s a crisis.

The good news is, it’s not to late to turn it around. And you can help.

Through Oct. 11, everyone in our community can participate in Bright Ideas in Women’s Wellness, an online crowdsourcing platform for ideas toward addressing the toughest health-care issues facing women and their families. All you have to do is go to NovantHealth.org/ideas.

“The goal at the end of the four-week challenge is a collection of ready-to-pilot ideas, that are thoroughly vetted by the community and ready to put into action,” Matthew Gymer, corporate director of innovation of Novant Health, said in a news release. “Our platform aims to unite health-care providers, policy makers, educators, businesses, service organizations and members of our community to solve large-scale community health problems.”

Community members can post an idea, comment on an idea, or vote up or down an idea. Community experts representing all economic sectors also participate by completing reviews to help move the most popular ideas to the top.

During a challenge kickoff Friday, Sept. 13, community leaders wasted no time in sharing some ideas they’re already putting into action. At Carolina National Golf Club, for example, a “Biggest Loser” style effort has begun to not only help participants pare inches off their waistlines, but also strokes off their golf game.

Smart Start of Brunswick County is using grant money to encourage gardening by children age 5 and younger, thereby teaching them the benefits of eating locally-grown produce and making healthier food choices for a lifetime. Brunswick Family Assistance continues to provide nutrition education to its clients, and the health department has pitched the idea of establishing a wellness council to help all residents.

“We believe it’s possible, with this kind of collaboration, to produce an idea that could change how we approach the most challenging health concerns in our community,” said Shelbourn Stevens, president of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.

We believe it, too.